Thursday, February 24, 2011

Bridging Austin

I take an occasional walk along the 10 mile hike and bike trail edging Lady Bird Lake in Austin, our state capital, where the official unofficial slogan is "Keep Austin Weird".  

It's a good kind of weird, the kind that makes you say to yourself, "I could live here."  Austin is the only community in Texas that is a certified wildlife habitat, a designation referring to birds and critters, not music festivals, another locally prevalent form of wildlife. 

One of my favorite features is a pedestrian/bike bridge across the lake.  It speaks of a town where individuals are as important as the masses.

I usually stop mid-center to look at the water.  Ducks and water birds flock in winter, cliff-swallows fly in summer.  

And the UT rowing team practices year-round.  I like the idea that our lives leave eddies.

One cold morning not long ago, I looked up as I walked onto the bridge and saw a barefoot, nightgown-clad girl perched on the rail.  My heart jumped. I ran.  How to save her?  After a few steps I saw the photographer and stylists.

Looking south from the walkers' bridge, pedestrians see a bridge for trains,  decorated with illegal and truly Austin graffiti:
Life Is Change 
Be Flexible 

Focus One Point 

Graffiti for the walker's soul. 

At about the mid-point of the bridge a Ghost-Bike is chained to the rail, a memorial to Royce Scott McCoy from his loving family, and a reminder to share the road. 

An end and a beginning, this spiral garden links the bridge to the bustle of downtown, an Austin amen to the necessity of nature in our lives.

Copyright 2009-2011 Kathleen Scott, for Hill Country Mysteries. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Garden Love

My sister Jane, who is elegant and sophisticated, took me to lunch yesterday for my birthday and gave me these, the  FINEST gardening boots I've ever seen.  Not her style...but she knew I'd love them.

And she was right.

She gifted matching earrings too, perfect shade of University of Texas burnt orange.  

I wore my new togs today to  mulch and felt so fabulous I was tempted to add the tiara.

Sisters are the best.

Copyright 2009-2011 Kathleen Scott, for Hill Country Mysteries. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

High Street Chocolate

I believe in the unplanned intersection of life and the amazing.  

Like finding the best chocolate in the world in the tiny town of  Comfort, Texas.

Denny and I were enjoying the wine-tasting room at Singing Water Vineyards, having worked our way through the list to a cab-merlot blend, when Margaret brought out chocolate samples to go with the wine.

I bit into one and a silk dream slowly unfolded on my tongue.

Made in Comfort, High Street Chocolate is a marriage of richness and simplicity.  Peggy Cloar and her daughter Alison Turner make dark, melt-in-your-mouth died-and-gone-to-heaven artisanal chocolate from the finest ingredients, which they import from across the tropics. 

And because it's High Street Chocolate, with a 70% cacao ratio, it's also lower-sugar, with more healthy properties.

Their signature bar, Tahitian Vanilla, has only three ingredients:  

Non-alkaline cacao--not stabilized with heat or chemicals, non-alkaline cacao is more temperamental to work with but brings more nuance with floral, fruity, nutty and other notes
Organic sugar--for a clean sweetness
Greenhouse-raised Tahitian Vanilla beans--care that keeps the orchid essence in the seed

Making chocolate is not for the impatient.  Everything must be just so, the temperature and humidity of the studio, the grinding, the combining, the tempering.  Much tasting.  Waiting.

And Peggy does it all.

So this is my Valentine's Day present to my friends-- a dark chocolate taste of the mystery of billions of stars in a deep night sky. 

To find High Street Chocolate for yourself, go online at:   
or call:  830-285-2532.  

You're welcome.

Copyright 2009-2011 Kathleen Scott, for Hill Country Mysteries. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

We Are Not In Kansas

Snow!  Last week's 1/2 inch of powdery frozen water, the first in longer than anyone remembers.  Pretty, fun, and gone by noon. In the midst of THREE DAYS BELOW FREEZING.  

No ice/snow removal equipment in south Texas... freeways closed Austin south through San Antonio, no garbage pickup, newspaper or school.

My friends up north may snicker... 28*F is a warm January day in Calgary. 

But no one in south Texas owns a heated birdbath.  And I had to switch out the hummingbird feeder every hour to keep it liquid.  I was afraid the whole time, for the birds and our plumbing.

At the end, we all came through fine.
Subadult male rufous hummingbird, taken the day after the freeze broke, still here from December 31, 2010.
Copyright 2009-2011 Kathleen Scott, for Hill Country Mysteries. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.